Showing posts with label Video Premiere. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Video Premiere. Show all posts

Aug 9, 2019

Video Premiere / Ben Danaher / “Someone Else’s Lover”

Today we’ve got a video premiere from Texas singer/songwriter Ben Danaher. It’s a piano-driven heartbreaker just perfect for sipping bourbon and looking forward to cooler weather (maybe it’s just me, but autumn brings on my sad music mood). Besides the keys, there’s also a sweeping steel guitar to lay down just the right ambience. The video itself is simple and classy, with Ben seated at the piano in a dimly lit bar. Just perfect. RIYL: Rodney Crowell, Ben Folds (for this song anyway), Travis Meadows. 

From Ben: “I wrote this song with Raquel Cole.  She is so amazing with melodies and led the session by humming that melody.  I was in the middle of a break up and the girl I had dated went out with one of my friends.  A lot of mutual friends were there to see it go down.  I felt like a spectator in a really gut wrenching movie, which was especially weird when you have gotten to know that person for so long and to all of a sudden turn a corner and flip a switch to where whatever they are doing with whoever they want is none of your business.” 

More about Ben under the video!


Ben Danaher Upcoming Tour Dates
August 16 - Helotes, TX - John T. Floore Country Store (w/ Aaron Lewis)
August 17 - Austin, TX - The Saxon Pub
August 18 - The Woodlands, TX - The Big Barn - Dosey Doe 

BEN DANAHER
“You can hurt and still feel lucky,” Ben Danaher sings on the title track of his deeply personal debut album, ‘Still Feel Lucky.’ Coming from any other songwriter, it might sound like a simple platitude, but in Danaher’s hands, it’s something far more profound, a moment of true enlightenment in the face of unimaginable tragedy. Years of pain are wrapped up in his delivery, but still he commits to the hope and the beauty inherent in the darkness. It’s a monumental task, but one the Huffman, Texas native handles with a tenacious grace on an album that, despite being born in the fires of struggle and loss, manages to forge its own path toward peace, growth, and even joy.

That Danaher turned to music to make sense of a profoundly difficult time in his life comes as little surprise to anyone who knows him; songwriting and performing are something of a family tradition. Danaher’s father and both of his brothers played music, and there had always been instruments and recording gear around the house throughout his childhood. Songwriting was, in fact, in his blood.

“My father never had a record deal or anything, but up until the last week of his life, he was still writing music,” Danaher reflects. “When I was in high school, my brother Brett started playing guitar with Pat Green. They were on the rise and having big success in Texas, so I was watching them play for 3,000 people some nights, which was also really inspiring to me.”

Drawing on the influence of legendary troubadours like Guy Clark, Rodney Crowell, and Townes Van Zandt, Danaher pursued his own path as a songwriter, first making a name for himself in Texas before relocating to Nashville in 2013. Along the way, he shared bills with Ray Wylie Hubbard, Jack Ingram, Angaleena Presley, Rhett Miller, Travis Meadows, and Amanda Shires, in addition to co-writing songs for Ryan Beaver, Bonnie Bishop, Rob Baird, and Justin Halpin among others. 

For his own songs, Danaher collaborated with some of Nashville fastest-rising stars, including Maren Morris, on material that blended classic country tradition with modern rock and roll sensibilities. His lyrics married hard-won wisdom and cinematic storytelling, capturing slices of life with a candid honesty that cut straight to the heart of things. Danaher quit drinking around that time, too, and began taking on extra bartending shifts to save up enough for recording sessions with producer Michael Webb, who encouraged him to bring his touring band into the studio with him.

“We got together at Mike’s house the first day and he set up a microphone in the middle of the room,” Danaher remembers. “We played the songs over and over until the grooves and arrangements all felt good, then we took those recordings home, and a week later, we came back and did it all over again until everything was totally locked in. By the time we actually headed into the studio, we had everything so tight that we cut the first seven songs in one day.”

It’s surprising to hear that an album that feels so well worn and lived-in was recorded in such a short time, but that’s part of Danaher’s magic. One spin through his debut, and it feels like you’ve known his music your whole life. That’s due in equal parts to his skillful way with memorable melodies and his gift for evocative storytelling, which conjures up vivid, fully formed characters hunting connection, the kind of men and women who might be down on their luck, but sure as heck aren’t giving up. On the soulful album opener “Hell Or Highwater,” a co-write with Morris, he mixes bluesy slide guitar and ferocious, soaring vocals in a bitter revenge fantasy, while the tender pedal steel-laden “Silver Screen” offers up a romantic ode to the last call crowd, and the slow-burning, bluesy “Jesus Can See You” calls out the hypocrisy of a particularly uncharitable Christian. “Judge and be judged isn’t that what it was that you told me alone in the dark?” he sings amid blistering fiddle and organ. “Jesus can see you breaking my heart.”

While Danaher’s character studies are riveting, it’s the moments when he turns his gaze inwards, like “My Father’s Blood,” that often hit the hardest.

“I always got told I was my father’s son or that I was just like my dad because I dreamed big,” Danaher says. “I took pride in it, and I know that he was proud of me because I was out there doing something he’d always wanted to do. I wouldn’t be living in Nashville or driving around the country in a van playing 100 shows a year if I wasn’t Bob Danaher’s son.”

It would be hard to overstate the importance of family in Danaher’s life, and the memory and influence of the loved ones he’s lost loom large throughout the album. 

“Seven years ago, my other brother Kelly was murdered,” Danaher explains. “He was having a birthday party for this three-year-old daughter, and their neighbor was upset that the noise was too loud. The neighbor got into an argument with my father-in-law, and when my brother came out to see what was going on, the neighbor pulled a gun.”

The gunman ended up shooting three people before being arrested by police, and Danaher received a shocking call later that night with the news that his brother had died from his injuries. 

“It took two years for the murder trial to come up, and meanwhile my dad was battling stage four cancer,” Danaher continues. “I was living in Nashville by that point, and two weeks before the trial began, I got the call saying my dad wasn’t doing so well, so I headed back to Texas. I got home and had about twelve hours with him before he passed away.”

While many of Danaher’s songs are drawn from wells of pain and loss, the music is anything but self-pitying. These are songs of revelation and redemption, reflecting a maturity and an acceptance that can only come with time and perspective. On “A Little While” and “Time Never Moves Slower,” he contemplates the impermanence of life, both in its highs and its lows, while “Getting Over Someone” reflects on the inner struggles we all face but often hide from the world, and “Over That Mountain” looks towards a day when he’ll be reunited with his brother in a better place. The album’s emotional centerpiece, though, has to be the driving title track, which stands out even on a record chock full of highlights. 

“You can go through hell and get completely hardened up, but there’s always going to be this human part of you that can still feel lucky and grateful for all the good that’s in your life,” Danaher concludes. “No matter how difficult things get, in the end, there’s always hope.”

That hope is ultimately at the root of why Danaher made the album. It was a therapeutic process for him, an opportunity to make sense of the inexplicable, but it was also a chance to respond to the universe with love and gratitude despite all he’s been through. 

“I’m very lucky that people want to hear my story,” he says. “If what I’ve been through can help people who listen to my music in any way, then I feel like I’ll have served my purpose in the world.”




Apr 18, 2019

Video Premiere / Nicholas Mudd / "Sit Right Here"

Photo by Shalon Goss


Today, we’re debuting the “Sit Right Here” video from Nicholas Mudd. The song is a driving barroom anthem with fiddle, steel, drinking, heartache, and hope. The video follows suit, making the best of a bad time. RIYL: Charley Crockett, Dwight Yoakam, Colter Wall, Margo Price, Paul Cauthen, Zephaniah Ohora

From Nick:
“We shot the video in my living room. I live in a house that was renovated in the 70s for the purpose of throwing swingers parties - The living room is actually a full bar like you’d find in a decent sized restaurant, with a rotisserie in the wall, a big stone hearth, and drop panel ceiling lights. And of course it’s got floor to ceiling dark wood paneling. So all I really had to do was get the cameras and lights and invite a bunch of friends over to party. Had a real good time.

The video was shot and edited by my friends Adri DeGirolami and Nick Ducassi. The musicians were Kenny Feinstein (pedal steel), Claire Oleson (fiddle), Jush Allen (drums), Michael Gomes (bass), and Steve Dannemiller (guitar).

The bartender was played by the uncommonly interesting Vejay Kesh, and “my buddy Eric” mentioned at the top of the song is played by my actual buddy Eric, who flew in from London to do the shoot. That good lookin’ redhead is my girlfriend Claire.”

More information about Nicholas and his self-titled album (out this past Friday!) below the video!


Nicholas Mudd // Nicholas Mudd (April 12)

When the road calls, you’ve gotta go. Neo-traditionalist Nicholas Mudd hopped on his Harley and hit the open highway, plotting a 10-day trip from Lexington, Kentucky to sunny Los Angeles; a 2011 pilgrimage west that would prove to be a pivotal turn in his musical journey. His upcoming self-titled album spins like a top between themes of heartache, romance, the thrill of the sea, and booze-soaked youthful sensations.

Criss-crossing state lines and camping out to save money, Mudd hatched a journey down to Memphis, then through to Texarkana and Denton just outside of Dallas, and then inched his way across New Mexico and Arizona before finally arriving in California. “Waiting on Me” is a free-spirited, twinkling dance-hall cut, in which the singer-songwriter yearns for his former life back East, all the while knowing he’ll never return to it. “Well, it’s been five years now / And I can’t help but wonder / If she would even know me, if I came back home,” he sings.

Opener “Come with Me Tonight” jingles and jangles in true neon-strewn, boot-scootin’ fashion, while “High Lonesome” breathes in the expansive scenery and woodlands rolling like thunder down and away from him. Over the span of these eight songs, produced and mastered by Eric Rennaker, Mudd runs the gamut as a country songsmith, contrasting heart-torn whimpers with canyon-sized caterwauling.

Growing up in Lexington, Kentucky, surrounded by horse country and lush farmland, Mudd found himself immersed in country, southern rock, and traditional folk music. It was evident from a young age that he had inherited his grandfather’s musical interests. Leonard Mudd, now 92, always had a collection of guitars, mandolins, fiddles, dulcimers, and banjos sprinkled around his home, and still manages to make music from time to time. 

Mudd’s exploration of music continued into high school when he formed The Blue Barrel Band, a cheeky nod to the fact they lacked an actual drum kit. “There was this giant blue plastic barrel in dad’s garage,” he recalls, “And we used it as a bass drum for our really bad folksy rock ‘n roll.”

Later, he took to Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Mellon University where he earned a degree in theatre, alongside another folksy music endeavor with some classmates. After graduating, he spent a few months back home before his cross-country trip to Los Angeles, where he took up an unpaid internship with a prominent casting director. The role soon led to a full assistant’s position, allowing him just enough of a financial foothold to get by in the City of Angels. 

Music took an unexpected back seat for several years as he began his film career. Ultimately, two key events in 2015 spurred him to return to the musical fray: His first weekend trip to Bandit Town USA and his discovery of the Grand Ole Echo (a celebrated weekly summer country show in Echo Park). Surrounded and inspired by these communities of like-minded musicians, artists, and urban outlaws, he picked up the old ax and got back to it.

In late 2017, Mudd stepped into Bedrock LA for his first proper studio recording session. A daunting task ahead of him, the Americana troubadour suited himself up for a record that faithfully adheres to the neo-traditionalist style of the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. But he’s got a fire in his belly for gale-force songwriting and catchy melodies. His voice is ripe with emotion, from the teary waterfall of “Lady of the Night” to the ethereal bliss with closer “Sailing Song,” an almost post-apocalyptic fever dream. “I’ve seen mountains on the sea / I’ve seen fire in the sky / I’ve outrun southern gales / I’ve cheated death,” he sings, in whimsical swoons, as if gliding away on tides ripping out to sea.

Mudd lands somewhere amidst contemporaries like Joshua Hedley, Margo Price and Colter Wall. He’s never tied to convention, even when he leans so unapologetically into sturdy classic country structures. His voice, as much as his penmanship, stimulates the senses with the most universal human emotions spanning pain, loneliness and abject fear. Furthermore, his album rekindles the kind of raw storytelling for which the genre has long been desperate, and 2019 might be the year the industry finally pays attention.


Apr 4, 2019

Video Premiere / Jackie Greene / "Tupelo"

Today we’re debuting the new video for “Tupelo,” from Jackie Greene’s 2017 EP The Modern Lives Vol. 1. It’s also the lead track from his new Live From Town Hall album. The video features the animation of Bill Plympton, long known for his work on MTV’s Liquid Television, Kane West’s “Heard ‘em Say” video, and his own Oscar-nominated short, Your Face

“Tupelo” is a bluesy, ambling Americana tune with lots of soul. It starts simply with a bass and drums before adding piano, banjo, and Greene’s friendly vocals. This tale of regret about being drawn in by the siren song of Tupelo’s seedy side even strolls into spiritual territory (on the live version), venturing through “Wade in the Water” towards the end. Give it a listen and check out more information about Jackie and The Modern Lives Vol. 1 after the video. RIYL: Justin Townes Earle, The Band, The Black Crowes’ gentler moments. 

From Jackie: "It was such a joy to work on this project with Bill.  He’s a crazy genius and I love crazy geniuses.  This is a song that I originally wrote as a piano song, but it morphed into a banjo song.  How it got there is a tale for another time.  For now, enjoy the video!"



Jackie Greene - The Modern Lives Vol. 1


Hailed as "the Prince of Americana" by the New York Times, Jackie Greene has emerged as one of his generation’s most compelling songwriters and guitarists, the kind of rare and supremely versatile artist who blends virtuosity and emotional depth in equal measure. Greene’s latest release, 'The Modern Lives – Vol 1,' finds him relocated from the Bay Area to a Brooklyn basement, where he recorded every single instrument himself in addition to serving as his own engineer and producer. Gritty and rollicking, the songs are as exuberant as they are incisive, drawing inspiration from some of the great social paradoxes of our time: that the technology designed to simplify our lives can actually complicate them in ways we'd never imagined, that the most crowded cities can actually be the loneliest places to live, that the networks meant to connect us to can actually leave us feeling more isolated than ever before.

Greene's been chasing a sense of authentic human connection through art ever since his teenage years, when he began self-recording and releasing his own music in central California. After a critically acclaimed independent debut, he signed his first record deal and embarked on a lifetime of recording and touring that would see him supporting the likes of BB King, Mark Knopfler, Susan Tedeschi, and Taj Mahal, in addition to gracing festival stages from Bonnaroo to Outside Lands. The New York Times praised his "spiritual balladry," Bob Weir anointed him the "cowboy poet" of Americana and blues, and the San Francisco Chronicle raved that he has "a natural and intuitive connection with… just about any musical instrument."


While Greene's songwriting chops were more than enough to place him in a league of his own (NPR's World Café raved that his "sound seems at once achingly intimate, surprisingly energetic and unburdened by adherence to genre"), Greene also emerged as a singular singer and guitarist, prompting Rolling Stone to praise his "honeyed tenor" and name him among "the most notable guitarists from the next generation of six-string legends." Between studio albums and his own tours, Greene took up prestigious gigs playing with Phil Lesh & Friends, The Black Crowes, Levon Helm, and Trigger Hippy, his supergroup with Joan Osborne.

Jan 24, 2019

Live Video Premiere / Graham Stone / "Little White Lines"

Photo by Ross Wright
Today we've got an exclusive premiere of a live video from Virginia-based singer-songwriter Graham Stone, who is set to release his sophomore LP Bad News on April 12th. 

"Little White Lines," a song too new to have made the cut for Bad News, is a rootsy, upbeat folk song about the life of a troubadour--living life on the road, with no pass-time beyond staring at the "little white lines" in between the lanes. The live video shows Stone performing solo acoustic at beloved Richmond, Va. club The Camel, allowing the lyrics to shine through in a stripped-down setting. 

Graham has an expressive, open-throated delivery that brings the emotion and the story to life. The song itself has a quickly delivered, almost talk-singing verse that brings to mind other road tunes like Cash's "I've Been Everywhere." It's a memorable tune and a great introduction to anyone who hasn't heard Stone's music before.  RIYL: Tyler Childers, Bruce Springsteen, Johnny Cash, Brent Cobb, Chuck Ragan, John Moreland, John Prine

From Stone: "This is a highway song for sure, a tune from the road. I wrote this one while driving the Pennsylvania Turnpike up to Michigan through a blizzard to see my daughter. This song was written during and about a specific trip, but it's also somehow kind of about all the other trips just like that one that I had done before. Usually alone but sometimes with friends or one of my brothers. Staying in hotels, listening to Ray Charles, drinking bourbon in dive bars, smoking cigarettes to stay awake. I just remember feeling like it would never end. Like I'd always be doing it this way even though I didn't really want to. The chorus of the song talks about the highway just sort of running on forever but by the very end I'm swearing it all off again. No more hotels, motels and little white lines."

You'll find a bio and more information below the player.


Graham Stone - Bad News

You can’t turn on the television or flick through your social feeds without being bombarded with bad news. “It’s like the whole world’s got the blues,” Americana singer-songwriter Graham Stone feels that lyric in his bones, it’s an apt summation of his new album, Bad News (out April 12th). Still, somehow he manages to provide hope and spread compassion through warm guitar chords and a voice as smooth as your favorite whiskey, but that doesn’t mean he won't raise a little hell along the way. 

Drawing heartfelt lines through the American South, Stone is a razor-sharp firebrand. He plants his feet at the center of the raging storm and accepts the elements in order to engage the humanity and tragedy buried beneath. That common thread echoes in every corner of the record, from the cautionary tale of “Oh Hell,” to the quaking bristle of “Celebrate.”

Stone doesn’t carry a chip on his shoulder, but there is an unmistakable air of honesty and determination in his lyrics. “Nobody knows what this life holds / But I guess maybe it’s better that way,” he sings on the urgent, enveloping “Fighting For,” a song with a driving force that sees Graham singing to his infant son. He doesn’t take his responsibility of parenthood lightly and his teachings of kindness and strength soak each moment to the core.  

His ripened wisdom is owed in large part to his humble beginnings. Born in Virginia in 1987, his fondest childhood memories are from the years his family spent living in Newport, NC, before eventually moving back home and settling down in Sudley, Virginia, on the banks of the Bull Run tributary near Manassas in Prince William County. He comes from a large family -- he’s one of seven children -- and a culture of loving music. His father often plucked out blues tunes on guitar or bluegrass numbers on the banjo and equipped Graham with an appreciation for instrumentation. “I also think I may have accidentally crushed his banjo by sitting on it as a kid,” he reminisces with a smirk. “I still kind of feel bad about that.”

By the time he entered his teens, Graham had developed an affinity for playing on his grandmother’s guitar. “I don’t know if she ever even really played it,” he corrects, noting his grandfather bought it "for her" really so he could try and do some finger-picking of his own. “But I think because my dad was the most serious guitar player in the family, somehow it ended up at our house.”

Through the years, Graham has played in various musical collectives. After a few unnamed punk bands in high school, he played in a collective in Washington, DC with friends called The Storytellers and then in a family band called Karla and the Brotherhood with his sister and a couple brothers. After moving to Richmond in 2014, Graham began to play out at local watering holes alongside his wife and fellow music-maker Aubrey (who predominantly plays the mandolin) as a duo called The Whiskey Wells.

But it wasn't until 2017, with his 30th birthday looming that Graham gathered up a collection of original songs for his debut solo record, Until the Day. “It was really just a bucket list thing I wanted to do at the time,” he says of the album, which arrived to astounding regional success and launched him headlong into the local music community just six months before the birth of his son. Afterwards, his life came into clearer focus and setting one foot in front of the other, he embarked more seriously on a path towards making music full time.

Now, armed with a clear vision and a brand new record in Bad News, Stone seeks to encourage the world-weary and reaches new levels of rumbling, gritty and plain-as-day Americana glory along the way. “This is also the first album I’ve recorded with what felt more like a cohesive band,” he says. Following a gig at FloydFest last summer, the troupe of musicians headed into the studio, already wearing the songs on their sleeves. "That gives the record a really cool cohesion, moving us closer towards what I imagine a totally live studio album might feel like,” he explains of the process, which began with Graham laying down guitar and vocals before bringing in the rest of the band for a live session together to capture the backbone instrumentation before adding the final sonic layers.

Bad News, which feels as earthy as it does polished, gives the listener plenty of room to breathe and allows each song to flourish on its own. Between crashing waves of rock & roll, the blues, folk storytelling and the telltale twang of the dobro--this record captures the best of everything Stone has to offer. He puts his all into his craft and unleashes onto the world an astute and necessary reflection of how we, as human beings, might engage with this world in a more honest and hopeful way. If we listen closely enough, we might come to understand more about who we are and perhaps in so doing, find out more of who we are meant to become together.


Jun 28, 2018

Live Video Premiere / Hawks and Doves (Kasey Anderson) / "From a White Hotel"


Kasey Anderson has had quite the journey. From burgeoning singer/songwriter (and an early Farce "contributor") to Twitter fame and being seemingly on the cusp of a national break-through …and then came the news of wire fraud, a felony conviction, and prison. After serving his time, he quietly slipped back into society with newfound sobriety and heavy remorse …and now Anderson makes his musical return. His new bank Hawks and Doves releases their album From a White Hotel on July 27th, and whether you've come around on him personally or not, you've got to admit that it's good to hear that voice again. Here's the new live video of the album's title track. Hope you enjoy.

From Kasey:
This is a live version of the title track from the Hawks and Doves album of same name, out July 27 on Jullian Records. The song was recorded live at the Living Room in NYC, February of 2018. The song is entirely autobiographical and references my addiction, bipolar disorder, time in prison, and recovery. It also contains these lines, which tie in pretty nicely to the attached screen-grabbed tweet.

“Well, I ain’t no kind of outlaw and I never claimed to be / so you can take that cowboy shit and you can send it out to sea / on a great big wooden ship with all your love’s debris / and set it on fire”



Pre-order From a White Hotel LP or CD: http://kaseyandersonmusic.com/store

Pre-order From a White Hotel Digital: http://smarturl.it/hawksandoves 





Jun 7, 2018

Exclusive Video Premiere / The Underhill Family Orchestra / "When the Trumpet Sounds"


Today, we've got a video premiere from self-described "southern prog pop" group, The Underhill Family Orchestra. I'm glad I kept an open mind when I read the words "folk-rocking collective" in the introductory email. Normally, I'd have moved on, having been bored to tears by most "collectives" in the past, but I clicked play, and was immediately drawn in. "When the Trumpet Sounds" is rollicking folk rock with gospel undertones and a danceable tempo. This is an Americana band that actually sounds like they're having a great time, and it's infectious. Fun is not a bad word. Vocalist Steven Laney has some David Lee Roth swagger and even sounds like him a little, and that's awesome.  Give this video a look - it's hilarious - then give the album a listen - you won't regret it. Recommended if you like: Shovels & Rope, Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats, The Band, JD McPherson, etc.

Below the video, you can also stream the full album Tell Me That You Love Me.

Steven Laney about the video:
"This video is in part inspired by old straight to VHS movies and a lot of British television ('AbFab,' 'Red Dwarf') with the pacing of old casting reels. We have a good deal of sentimentality for that 90s cassette look from watching 'McGee and Me,' 'Captain Power,' 'Monty Python,' and the like. As we were creating the 'characters' we were playing, they became caricatures of ourselves and we just rolled with it. Ben is kind of a health nut and workout junkie, Roy is super organized, and I'm kind of a mixed bag that loves dogs of all kinds (hot and otherwise). The energy during the shoot was so fun because we knew what we were doing was silly and with that came a stream of creativity from every member voicing great content ideas."


-------------------------




Jan 6, 2017

Lyric Video Premiere: Becky Warren "She's Always There"

Becky Warren's album War Surplus was named on a couple of ballots for Farce the Music's Top Albums of 2016 list, and today we've got an exclusive premiere of her lyric video for the confessional drinkin' song, "She's Always There." Check out the biography and links of interest below the video for more information on this exciting singer/songwriter. Warren is recommended to fans of Lucinda Williams, Mary Gauthier, Cody Jinks, etc.





Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/thisisbeckyw

With her debut solo album, War Surplus, Nashville singer/songwriter Becky Warren relays the affecting, gritty and candid tale of the relationship between an Iraq-bound soldier named Scott and his girlfriend, June. As the story unfolds, the two meet, fall in love, get married and then struggle to hold it all together when he returns from his deployment a changed man living with the echoes of PTSD. From the record’s award-winning lead track “Call Me Sometime” straight through ‘til the last note, Warren’s potency as a songwriter is on full display, as she weaves a compelling musical narrative rooted in her own life experiences and the rich sounds of Americana and rock & roll, all the while channeling the bold yet unaffected spirit of Neil Young, the compassion and grit of Steve Earle, and the fiery, bourbon-soaked vocals of Lucinda Williams.
 Supporting Warren on War Surplus is an impressive cast of Nashville musicians including guitarist and pedal-steel player Paul Niehaus (Calexico, Iron & Wine, Justin Townes Earle, Bobby Bare Jr.), drummer Dillon Napier (Margo Price), and Adam Wakefield (2nd place, The Voice), who sings backing vocals on “Call Me Sometime” and plays organ and accordion throughout the record. This talented pickup band joined Warren this past March for six days of sessions at analog-obsessed Nashville studio Welcome to 1979, with Warren’s friend and bassist Jeremy Middleton—a military veteran himself—handling production duties. “The fact that Jeremy had, in his own life, been through some of the same experiences on the record made him a perfect fit,” Warren says. “I had over 30 songs I could have used—he really helped me sift through everything and choose the ones that best told the story. And he did a lot of arranging.”
Beyond the top-notch musicians, brilliantly crafted songs and tasteful production, part of the reason War Surplus hits with such impact is the very personal, almost autobiographical nature of Warren’s material. Just like the June character she created, Warren married a soldier back in 2005. A week later, he was deployed to Iraq and eventually returned home with PTSD. After four tumultuous years of trying to work through the fall out, they eventually, amicably, split. So while Scott and June are characters, and their story is a fictional account, Warren has the advantage of knowing what it’s really like—of being able to draw from a deep well of personal experience, and it lends the record a powerful authenticity and empathy. And to take the writing beyond the scope of her own experiences, Warren also drew from several veteran-penned memoirs, in particular My War: Killing Time in Iraq by Colby Buzzell, a book that inspired War Surplus standout “Stay Calm, Get Low,” and ultimately led to Buzzell—a freelancer for New York Times and Esquire—writing the album’s liner notes.
A record concerned with real human stories, War Surplus is also refreshingly devoid of political posturing, and deeply respects the experiences of veterans and their friends and family. “The album deals with some heavy themes,” Warren says, “but it was also important to me that it be catchy and fun to listen to. I know it’s a really polarizing song, but  I’ve always loved Springsteen’s ‘Born in the U.S.A.’ It’s a serious song about Vietnam vets, but people still have a good time shouting along to it in stadiums.”
Long before Warren struck out on her own as a solo artist, all the way back in 2003, she played in Boston alt-country outfit The Great Unknowns, who signed to Amy Ray’s Daemon Records, toured with the Indigo Girls, and were praised by everyone from Maxim to No Depression. The band released the first of its two albums, Presenting The Great Unknowns, in 2004. But it wasn’t long before Warren’s struggles with her husband’s PTSD led her to take an extended break from music. “The whole time I wasn’t writing, it was very painful for me,” she says. “I couldn’t even really listen to music because it made me feel terrible. I was thinking about everything I was missing.”
Within a month of her divorce, though, she was writing again, and would eventually record a second Great Unknowns album, 2012’s Homefront. Though her old bandmates were now scattered across the country and unable to tour, Warren kept cranking out powerful songs, including “Call Me Sometime,” which won her the 2014 Merlefest Songwriting Competition and the 2015 Kerrville New Folk competition. It’s an impressive feat when you consider the past winners of these contests—career artists like Steve Earle, Lyle Lovett and Gillian Welch.
A 12-song concept record, War Surplus is Warren’s most fully realized work to date. The project began in earnest in 2012 when she attended a Johnny Mercer Foundation writing program where she met several artists who were involved with musical theater. “I was really interested in their process,” Warren says. “The way they focus on characters, and what motivates them.”
Warren wrote War Surplus’ alcoholic anthem “She’s Always There” during the Mercer program. From there, Scott was born, and with Warren’s more ambitious character-driven perspective, he took on a life of his own. “I could interact with Scott,” she says. “Talk to him, think about him. It was therapeutic. Writing a song, you’ve gotta get your thoughts to a razor’s edge because you don’t have that much time.”
With this new solo debut on the way, Warren is busy gearing up for a run of full-band and solo dates in support of the release. She hopes the record will resonate with a wide range of fans while raising awareness about veterans and PTSD. “There are so many people out there who have gone through similar experiences,” Warren says, “and I want to do everything I can to make them feel like they’re not invisible. And maybe at the same time, the record will lead some people to learn more about veterans' issues, and take some positive action.”

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails